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Mount Dedicates and Blesses Our Lady of Kibeho Mosaic

Nicole Patterson

Kibeho feature

President Trainor, Juliet Halprin, C'16, and Janice Obuchowski with the stunning mosaic of Our Lady of Kibeho. The mosaic was made possible by a gift from Obuchowski, a member of the university's board of trustees.

At a dedication and blessing ceremony on May 3, Mount St. Mary's University unveiled a new mosaic on campus inspired by Our Lady of Kibeho, the only Vatican-approved Marian apparition to take place on the continent of Africa. The mosaic was made possible by a gift from the Mount’s Board of Trustees member Janice Obuchowski, her husband Albert (Bert) Halprin, and their children, one of whom is a Mount graduate of the Class of 2016, Juliet Halprin. The mosaic is located on the northeast side of Bradley Hall and incorporates a wayside marker including the story of and excerpts from the prayer to Our Lady of Kibeho.

kibehodedication064-mosaic.jpgThe story of Our Lady of Kibeho began when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in Kibeho, Rwanda, during the 1980s, and identified herself as Nyina wa Jambo (Kinyarwanda for “Mother of the Word”) to three high school girls: Alphonsine Mumureke, Anathalie Mukamazimpaka and Marie-Claire Mukangango. The apparitions communicated an apocalyptic vision of Rwanda falling into bloody violence and hatred, potentially foretelling the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In 2021, the local bishop of the Catholic Church officially recognized the visions of the three schoolchildren as authentic, with approval of the Universal Catholic Church.

Pope John Paul II, during his visit to Rwanda, encouraged the faithful to turn to the Virgin as “a simple and sure guide” to conversion and acceptance of the sorrow all face in life. He asked for prayer and greater commitment against local political and ethnic divisions.

“I read about Our Lady of Kibeho and her call for prayer, repentance and reconciliation,” said Obuchowski. “Devotion to her as Our Lady of Sorrows, who suffered alongside her divine child is significant, especially to all parents.” Obuchowski and her family have visited Africa on several occasions, including trips to Tanzania and Kenya. The family concluded that Our Lady of Kibeho should be represented at the Mount, where Our Lady is honored in many statues and paintings as a patroness of many countries and continents, especially at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes site. “We are a universal Church so honoring Our Lady of Kibeho and, in a particular way, faith in and from the African continent is a great treasure to the world,” she added.

kibehodedication056-blessing.jpgThe Mount’s leadership and community responded to the suggestion positively. The mosaic of Our Lady will be located where many students and campus visitors walk. The Halprin/Obuchowski family believes the essence of what makes the Mount so extraordinary is that it provides the opportunity to reach out to all community members while simultaneously recognizing that “God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother are with us through the educational journey.”

“Catholicism is my faith, and it’s our school’s great heritage. We want the Mount’s diverse student body to be communicating and finding ways to care about each other by turning to the Blessed Virgin. If we come together out of love, we can honestly listen to one another. Mount students are blessed to be here and meant to grow in grace. Our Lady of Kibeho sought repentance and a return to faith, warning of tragedy. She teaches that grace can transcend sorrowful experiences, yielding joyful reconciliation. She made known that her message was not only for Rwanda or Africa—but for the entire world,” Obuchowski said.

kibehodedication203-marker.jpgOur Lady’s message was clear: “Let me help you, let me give you a hand to lead you through this suffering. Let me give you a prayer to hold on to so that you can work through the suffering of this world.” Our community seeks to understand and love everyone in order to make the Mount, our country and the world we all share a more welcoming place for all God’s children.One very important goal is for everyone to experience the grace of welcome. That was the message of reconciliation in Rwanda.

Seminary Rector and Vice President Rev. Msgr. Andrew R. Baker, S.T.D., summarizes, “Our Lady has appeared in various places around the world to let us know that we are all her children. Everyone belongs to their mother. This new mosaic of Our Lady of Kibeho lets us know that Mary is the mother of every Mountie.”

Excerpts from the prayer to Our Lady of Kibeho

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Word,
Mother of all those who believe in him
and who welcome Him into their life,
we are here before you to contemplate you.
We believe that you are amongst us,
like a mother in the midst of her children,
even though we do not see You with our bodily eyes…
Grant us always the light and the strength necessary to accept,
with all seriousness, Your call to us to be converted,
to repent, and to live according to your Son’s Gospel. Teach us how to pray with sincerity,
and to love one another as He loved us…

Holy Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows,
teach us to understand the value of the cross in our lives…
and, when our pilgrimage on this earth comes to an end,
may we live eternally with You in the kingdom of Heaven.


Nicole Patterson